#I'llridewithyou: Twitter users take to social media to show support for Muslim community
Twelve hours after the Lindt Cafe hostage crisis in Sydney began to unfold, Australians have flooded social media with sentiments of solidarity and support of Muslims in the community, the DailyMail reported.
Twitter user Sir Tessa began what has become a worldwide phenomenon, offering to sit next to members of the Islamic faith on transport if they were frightened to be seen in public wearing religious clothing.
The 'I'll ride with you' hashtag has garnered over 112,000 mentions across social media, with people all over the world jumping on board the movement in an effort to turn the terrifying events of Monday into something positive.
After Sir Tessa noticed a disturbing trend of anti-Muslim sentiments, he wrote to those on his regular bus 'wear religious attire, & don't feel safe alone: I'll ride with you'.
The hashtag was soon picked up by his followers, gaining support from fellow Australians who offered lifts to work, promises of protection, and friendship to anyone feeling threatened.
With many areas of Sydney still in lockdown and Australians expressing their fears of follow-up attacks in the coming days, the movement blossomed into a forum for showing compassion and tolerance for all faiths.
'The compassion of everyday Australian's should NEVER b underestimated..#illridewithyou is the perfect example of why this is a great nation!' said one Twitter user.
The promises weren't empty offers either, with many detailing the routes they travelled on and encouraging others to join them.
'#illridewithyou because *every* race, belief and culture has some foolish people, but more who are honest, smart and caring', said another user.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten joined the movement, along with South Australian Premier Jay Wetherill, who tweeted 'We all have a role to play in creating a society that is welcoming of people from all nationalities and cultures.#illridewithyou'.
Media personalities including ABC's Lateline presenter Emma Alberici, Triple J's Father Bob, former Home and Away star Tammin Sursok, Dancing With the Stars host Daniel McPherson, and Today co-host Lisa Wilkinson, and Socceroos player Harry Kewell all showed their support for their Muslim brothers and sisters.
The campaign against oppression comes as two Muslim Australian men visited the scene of the siege situation in Martin Place late on Monday evening to pray for the hostages.
Abdul El-Lawn, 28, and Sam Tiger, 39 came from Liverpool and Macarthur respectively in a show of solidarity with those still trapped inside the building, condemning the actions of the hostage-taker.
'He's contradicting Islam... He's not from our community for him to do this,' Mr Tiger told Daily Mail Australia.
The Macarthur man also revealed he offered to assist police so no officers had to put their lives in danger.
'I called Surry Hills police station and offered to go in and give my own life instead of a police officer', Mr Tiger revealed.
Mr El-Lawn echoed his friend's sentiments saying such actions are in no way indicative of the Muslim community, and they have never faced any barriers during the practice of their religion in Australia.
'We're Australian too, we don't want this to happen. No one accepts this. It could have been my mother having coffee, it could have been my sister', the 28-year-old said.
'At the end of the day there's hostages and we are here to support them,' Mr El-lawn added.
After some questioning from police the men prayed for those trapped inside the Lindt chocolate factory at around 11pm on Monday evening.
'We saw it on the news... we came for peace,' they said.
Ten hostages are believed to still be caught up in the hostage crisis in Martin Place.
Social media has proven to be a powerful player in the situation, as Seven Network reporter Chris Reason was allowed back in the channel's evacuated newsroom and began live tweeting what he was witnessing.
'The lights have gone out...You can just make out the black extremist flag being held up in the window,' Seven Network reporter Chris Reason tweeted, as he revealed dramatic details of the situation.
Reason, who was so close he could see the redness in the hostage's eyes as they sobbed, this evening labelled it 'an awful thing to witness'.
'We can see the faces of hostages - pained, strained, eyes red and raw,' he tweeted, noting that one of the hostages had their 'head in their hands'.
Reason provided fresh details about the man believed to be the mastermind of the crisis: 'Gunman is clear - white shirt, black cap, unshaven, holds poss pump action shotgun.'